Memoirs are often deeply personal stories of a person’s experiences and environment and when Lousie Linton published her memoir, In Congo’s Shadow: One girl’s perilous journey to the heart of Africa, she must have expected the world to accept it as such.
Her tale of her stint in Zambia in 1999, at the age of 18 which sees her hiding from rebel soldiers, protecting an HIV-positive orphan girl, contracting malaria, and having close encounters with “lions, elephants, crocodiles, and snakes,” has however been branded simply as Linton lies.
Zambians and readers across the entire African continent, who have read the book which seems to bear the over-arching message that “Africa is rife with hidden danger”, have described it as a delusional, patronizing “jungle narrative,” riddled with inaccuracies and racist views.
Critics of the Scottish actress and film producer have described her as the latest ‘White Savior Barbie’. They are not far off, considering this quote culled from the self-published memoir;
“Gunshots echoed through the bush and seemed to be getting closer. I couldn’t imagine the awful, sporadic acts of violence that were being committed as the village was ransacked. Fear and anger for the children consumed my thoughts… As the night ticked interminably by, I tried not to think what the rebels would do to the ‘skinny white muzungu with long angel hair’ if they found me. Clenching my jaw to stop my teeth chattering, I squeezed my eyes shut and reminded myself how I’d come to be a central character in this horror story.”
Linton lies is of course compounded by the patronizing view of Africa she gives when reflecting on her time here, after returning to Scotland;
“I know that the skinny white girl once so incongruous in Africa still lives on inside me. Even in this world where I’m supposed to belong, I still sometimes feel out of place. Whenever that happens, though, I try to remember a smiling gap-toothed child with HIV whose greatest joy was to sit on my lap and drink from a bottle of Coca-Cola. Zimba taught me many beautiful words but the one I like the most is Nsansa. Happiness.”
Social media is home to many of her critics who have taken to attacking the shaky premise of her book with the hashtag, Linton lies. Some have called on Zambia’s minister of information to demand an apology from Scotland. In response to the barrage of criticism, Linton has apologized for offending readers.
Linton lies are especially uncharacteristic of the Zambia which is one of the most stable country’s on the planet, despite struggling with poverty. Like one Amazon reviewer puts it; “The author has shamelessly exploited a child by writing of her medical status as well as publishing pictures of her. Furthermore she has slandered an entire nation in search for a quick buck.”